Author Archives: Nathaniel

Mondays at Melton covered in Daily Local News

DLN reporter Bill Rettew was with us on July 19, at the weekly Mondays at Melton program presented jointly by the West Chester Green Team and the Melton Center. His photo shows Nora Ziegler reading a book on tomatoes to the children.

Read the full article “West Chester students get lesson on growing, harvesting fruits and vegetables” at the Daily Local News site. Excerpt:

“A lot of kids are not exposed to growing,” said Green Team president elect Margaret Hudgings. “They see it comes from a package in the supermarket instead of from a garden.”

The students plant and watch veggies grow from seeds.

“I gives them an appreciation of fruits and vegetables,” Hudgings said. “If involved with growing themselves, they will eat it.”

What’s Growing in the Borough

Please check out a great article by journalist and professor in WCU’s Department of Communication and Media Jesse Piersol, “What’s Growing in the Borough: the bounty of West Chester gardens,” in the July issue of the very attractive publication The WC Press, pages 33-41. You may receive or pick up a copy, or you can subscribe online for free when you look at the article here.

The article features interviews with:

• Our own gardening activists Ashlie Delshad, Margaret Hudgings, and Sallie Jones;

• West Chester University’s Joan Welch, Kate Stewart and Tyler Montgomery, about the four WCU campus gardens (see our new video featuring them here; scroll down to “The Gardens of West Chester University” and follow the link);

• Also Christina Wilcomes of Hackberry Hill Flowers and Ben Rotteveel of DutchGrown Flower Bulbs.

The article, beautifully written and illustrated with 5 garden photos, including kids gardening at the Melton Center in our community garden program there (see more here and here), ends with thoughts about how, even in difficult times, gardening can bring us a sense of tranquility and escapism.

Thanks to Jesse Piersol and The WC Press for such a great job of presenting an important local trend. May it inspire many more gardeners!

Edible Cress Hair Project

By WCGT summer Garden Program Coordinator Elizabeth Schultz, showing the project she directed at the June 21 Mondays at Melton program

Needed materials
1. Decorated jar
2. Almost full of soil
3. Sprinkling seeds
4. Adding soil to cover seeds
A few days after step 5: attractive edible end result

Looking for a simple, fun activity to do with kids? Look no further! The Green Team organized the following planting activity for children at our first Mondays at Melton youth series, and it is easy to replicate at home. Follow the steps below, and in just a few days you will have a jar person with edible cress hair that can be cut and enjoyed in soups, salads, sandwiches, and more!

Materials Required: 

  • Glass Jar (We used an upcycled 5oz Oui yogurt jar)
  • Soil
  • Garden Cress Seeds
  • Glass Painting/Decorating Materials 

Directions:

  • Step 1: After gathering your materials, start by decorating your jar with whatever craft materials you have on hand. Our kids enjoyed working with paint markers and googly-eyes to make their jar faces really stand out. 
  • Step 2: Once your jar has a lively face, fill it almost to the brim with organic soil or dirt.
  • Step 3: Sprinkle a pinch of your garden cress seeds over the top of the dirt.
  • Step 4: Spoon a small amount of soil over the seeds until they are all lightly buried. Keep seeds shallow at about ¼” planting depth.
  • Step 5: Wet the soil with a little bit of water, place the jar on a windowsill, and wait. Garden cress is extremely quick to sprout and low-maintenance (making it great for impatient kids). You should see cress growing within 2-5 days! 

In a week or less, your cress shoots will be 1½-2” tall and ready to harvest. You can cut the stalks off at the base and use the greens to add a peppery tang to your next dish. To learn more about garden cress and how you can use it in your kitchen, read here.

It’s time for 100% clean energy for, of, and by the people

from Sierra Club, 7/18/21

The Ready For 100 Activist Toolkit is a one-stop shop for any team or activist who wants to move their community to 100% clean, renewable energy for all. It is a living, values-driven, action-oriented blueprint for building a local campaign and gaining skills needed to score grassroots wins. With an extensive Campaign Roadmap and various skill modules, this toolkit is meant for everyone who wants to help achieve a just and equitable transition and a future where everyone can thrive. 

Our communities are our strength, but right now, many are struggling. From high unemployment to racial injustice to public health emergencies to droughts and floods — interlocking crises are impacting communities now. And time and time again, the most vulnerable are affected first and worst.

This summer, we have a historic chance to build back bolder by addressing climate change, racial injustice, and unemployment all at once through a transition to 100% clean energy. But the Biden Administration can’t achieve this vision on its own. We need to build power on the ground, and demonstrate our support for a just clean energy transition locally — city by city, block by block, and person by person.

To date, 183 cities from Atlanta to Cleveland to Boise and beyond have already set 100% clean energy goals. Many of those commitments were supported by local Ready For 100 activists, volunteers, and allies who over the years have learned a thing or two about grassroots organizing. Rooted in our values, this toolkit brings together many of those learnings to provide a roadmap on how to build a team, reach your decision-makers, and win local, equitable clean energy victories.

Local clean energy solutions will cut pollution, create family-sustaining jobs, lower energy bills, and repair harms to vulnerable communities who suffer from local environmental injustices. We believe everybody has a right to this vision — and we know that no two cities will have the same path to meeting their communities’ needs. That’s why we’re calling on you.

Our solutions need to be transformational, democratic, and accessible. When it comes to climate action, it’s time to equitably power our communities forward. It’s time for 100% clean energy for, of, and by the people. It’s time for a just clean energy transition that doesn’t leave anyone behind.

Clean energy is key to powering towards a better, brighter future for all. Let’s work together to make sure 100% clean energy is for everyone — starting in your community.

West Chester Area Transition is official!

transition-wcgt-2021-yard-signOn July 12, 2021, Transition US notified us that it has approved the membership application of West Chester Area Transition, a program of the West Chester Green Team.

You can now read about WCAT here. See an earlier summary of West Chester Area Transition’s work here. Read about other nearby Transition groups Phoenixville Area Transition here, Transition Town Media here, and Wilmington in Transition here.

Transition US logo

From the overall Transition movement’s self-description:

Transition is a movement of communities coming together to reimagine and rebuild our world.

The international Transition movement began in 2005 in Totnes, England, and has since spread to over 1,200 communities in 50 countries around the world. Transition is about communities stepping up to address the big challenges we face by starting at the local level. We seek to nurture a caring culture, one focused on connection with self, others and nature. We are reclaiming the economy, sparking entrepreneurship, reimagining work, reskilling ourselves and weaving webs of connection and support. We are engaging in courageous conversations; extraordinary change is unfolding.

Every Transition Initiative is independently-run, responding to the unique challenges and opportunities that exist in our local communities. However, we are bound together by a similar outlook, a common set of principles, and a five-stage model for scaling-up our impacts over time.

Our Principles

We respect resource limits and create resilience

The urgent need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, greatly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and make wise use of precious resources is at the forefront of everything we do.

We Promote Inclusivity and Social Justice

The most disadvantaged and powerless people in our societies are likely to be worst affected by rising fuel and food prices, resource shortages, and extreme weather events. We want to increase the chances of all groups in society to live well, healthily, and sustainable livelihoods.

We Adopt Self-Organization and Decision-Making at the Appropriate Level

The intention of the Transition model is not to centralize or control decision-making, but rather to work with everyone so that it is practiced at the most appropriate, practical, and empowering level.

We Pay Attention to Balance

In responding to urgent, global challenges, individuals and groups can end up feeling stressed, closed, or driven rather than open, connected, and creative. We create space for reflection, celebration, and rest to balance the times when we’re busily getting things done. We explore different ways of working which engage our heads, hands, and hearts that enable us to develop collaborative and trusting relationships.

We Are Part of an Experimental, Learning Network

Transition is a real-life, real-time, global social experiment. Being part of a network means we can create change more quickly and more effectively, drawing on each other’s experiences and insights. We want to acknowledge and learn from failure as well as success – if we’re going to be bold and find new ways of living and working, we won’t always get it right the first time. We will be open about our processes and will actively seek and respond positively to feedback.

We Freely Share Ideas and Power

Transition is a grassroots movement, where ideas can be taken up rapidly, widely, and effectively because each community takes ownership of the process themselves. Transition looks different in different places and we want to encourage, rather than unhelpfully constrain that diversity.

We Collaborate and Look for Synergies

The Transition approach is to work together as a community, unleashing our collective genius to have a greater impact together than we can as individuals. We will look for opportunities to build creative and powerful partnerships across and beyond the Transition movement and develop a collaborative culture, finding links between projects, creating open decision-making processes, and designing events and activities that help people make connections.

We Foster Positive Visioning and Creativity

Our primary focus is not on being against things, but on developing and promoting positive possibilities. We believe in using creative ways to engage and involve people, encouraging them to imagine the future they want to inhabit. The generation of new stories is central to this visioning work, as is having fun and celebrating.

See the video of “Don’t Spray Us!: Panel Discussion on Moving Beyond Pesticides”

Thursday, June 17th at 7pm, we held another thought-provoking virtual conversation on environment. “Don’t Spray Us!: Panel Discussion on Moving Beyond Pesticides” brought together knowledgeable panelists to speak to local issues concerning the use of pesticides and the alternatives.

“Don’t Spray Us!: Panel Discussion on Moving Beyond Pesticides” on June 17, 2021, brought together knowledgeable panelists to speak to local issues concerning the use of pesticides and the alternatives that may exist. Panelists included Emma Horst-Martz with PennPIRG, Kara Rubio of Women for a Healthy Environment, and Drew Toher with Beyond Pesticides. The discussion was moderated by Professor Cheryl Wanko of West Chester University. View the full discussion at the WCU Office of Sustainability.

Sponsored by the WCU Office of Sustainability, West Chester Green Team, and members of the Chester County Environment Alliance.

 

Flowers brighten up the neighborhood

Thanks to journalist Bill Rettew of the Daily Local News for this tribute to the power of flowers and the Green Team’s efforts to beautiful our area and make it more sustainable! And of course congratulations to Christiane for her contributions to the streetscape.

As Christiane says in the article: “Planting these beautiful flowers or plants provides much more habitat and food to insects and birds compared to just grass. It’s one step you can take to contribute to the environment and it looks beautiful.”

Read more at the Daily Local News, July 7, 2021. For another example of the Green Team’s lawn-to-garden conversion program, see here.

Lawn to Native Pollinator Garden Conversion

by Courtney Finneran

Are you interested in an affordable DIY project to convert your monoculture lawn into a gorgeous and ecologically beneficial native pollinator garden? West Chester Transition Team’s Living Landscapes Committee created a publicly accessible native pollinator garden located in the 500 block of South Maryland Ave in West Chester Borough to showcase this technique and educate the public on the benefits. 

Visible from the sidewalk, the new 200-square-foot native pollinator garden will provide nectar for butterflies and hummingbirds and food for caterpillars. Native plants have evolved to act as hosts to our native insects and therefore provide a highly valuable resource that cannot be provided by non-natives.

First step: tarping the area over a 6-8 week period is an easy way to kill the native turfgrass before planting

Before the area was planted with a mix of native grasses and perennials, the turfgrass had to be removed first. To do this, the committee chose to use the technique commonly known as smothering or tarping, also called solarization or occultation. Thick black plastic sheeting was laid down on the area in mid-March and stayed in place for five weeks. Next the plastic was removed, and the area was exposed to sunlight and precipitation for two weeks. Finally, the plastic was re-laid over the area for a final one-to-two week period to kill any remaining weeds and grass. 

100 plants of over 14 species of native grasses and perennials were planted in May 2021 and mulched with pine-straw.

When the tarp was removed, the dead material was raked up, which also helped prepare the surface for planting. The plants used for this bed were purchased from an online nursery that provides small 4”-plugs consisting of over 13 different native species assembled in a pre-assembled “pollinator garden.” Two pollinator garden trays, totaling 100 plugs of 14 different native species were purchased in February. The goal for this site was to plant the area densely for maximum first-season growth and success.  

Metal mesh cages protect young plants from being eaten by the local hungry rabbits

The planting layout design was developed by one of the Committee members, Michele Hensey of Lifescapes.design. Plants were installed in mid-May shortly after shipment. Pine straw was used for mulch to help retain moisture and control weed growth. Due to the heavy pressure from rabbits in this area, metal cages were put around several preferred species.

(“Lawn-to-garden” has been one of the West Chester Green Team’s main themes; see also several of our videos made by Will Claudio, especially Dawn Mazzone interviewed by Courtney Bodle here.)

Mondays at Melton update, June 28, 2021

The Green Team’s community gardening program is well underway. Local residents and families who want to garden but lack their own suitable space are hard at work at three different locations in West Chester Borough.

An important part of it is the Mondays at Melton program for kids; see background here.

Here is a summary of the second Monday eve program by Jamie Atkins, New Directions Program Director at the Charles A. Melton Arts and Education Center:

We had another wonderful Monday at Melton on June 28! Melinda and her son William read a beautiful book, The Bear’s Garden, and the kids loved making their newspaper pots — many of them even planted them in our garden! 🪴 Thank you so much, Melinda, for your patience, kindness, and amazing teaching skills! 

Also, a big thank you to Nora, who helped with everything from leasing the soil station to walking kids to the bathroom, and to Courtney for bringing her kiddos Ollie and Everette to participate in the program. It was a hot but wonderful night for all, with a lot of smiles!

The kids were also so excited to harvest our first ripe cherry tomato of the season! Enjoy the photos!

And from week 1, June 21: Nora reads at the Melton Center
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